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SAUND, Dalip Singh (Judge)

SAUND, Dalip Singh (Judge)
Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this object
1899–1973

Biography

In November 1956, D. S. Saund, who everyone simply called “Judge,” became the first person of Asian descent elected to serve as a United States Representative. He was a tireless champion of his southern California district and the farmers who called it home. But his unique backstory—born in India, naturalized U.S. citizen, successful businessman, county judge—also catapulted him to the international stage. During his career in the House of Representatives, at the height of the Cold War, Saund became something of a transcendent politician who had the singular ability to engage audiences abroad. Although he frequently confronted discrimination during his life in the United States, Saund maintained his belief in the promises of American democracy.

Dalip Singh Saund was born on September 20, 1899, and raised in Chhajjalwaddi in the far-northern province of Punjab, India, which at the time was a British colony. Saund’s father worked as a construction contractor for the government and died when Saund was only a boy. His parents had lived through the period of British colonialism and neither had attended school, but education was a cornerstone of Saund’s life. His father and uncles saved enough money to open a one-room schoolhouse about a half mile from where Saund lived. At the age of eight, his parents sent him to boarding school 16 miles away in the city of Amritsar near the border with modern day Pakistan.1

While in college at the University of Punjab, Saund supported the movement for an independent India led by Mohandas Gandhi.2 Along with his informal lessons in nonviolence and civil disobedience, Saund majored in mathematics, graduated with a BS degree in 1919, and moved to America to further his education. While he waited for his passport, Saund worked to expand his childhood school, planted trees along the roads throughout his village, and helped establish two community banks.3

During World War I, Saund read the speeches of President Woodrow Wilson in the news and later discovered the writings of Abraham Lincoln, especially the moving words of the Gettysburg Address.4 “Lincoln,” Saund later wrote, “changed the entire course of my life.”5 Saund had planned to spend no more than a few years in America learning the fruit-canning business before returning home.6 His trip west took him from Bombay to England and from England to Ellis Island, New York, where he arrived on September 27, 1920. “You are now a free man in a free country,” one of the immigration officers told him.7 Saund made his way west and enrolled in the University of California’s agricultural school and mathematics department as well.8

Berkeley, California, was not the most welcoming of places for Indian and Asian students, and “outside of the university atmosphere,” he later remembered, “it was made quite evident that people from Asia—Japanese, Chinese, and Hindus—were not wanted.”9 Saund, however, became involved with the local community and then earned MA and PhD degrees in mathematics in 1924.

After he finished his studies, Saund’s family informed him that the Indian government had been keeping tabs on his “anti-British utterances in America.” Saund decided to stay in California and later authored My Mother India, a book about his experiences at home and a critique of British imperialism.10 He moved south to California’s Imperial Valley, where a number of other Indians had settled.11 His first job, he said, was as “foreman of a cottonpicking gang at a ranch belonging to some Indian friends.” Saund saved money and quickly went into the business of growing lettuce. The lettuce market tanked, however, and it was a while before he recouped his losses.12

In 1928 Saund married Marian Kosa, the daughter of a close friend and a future teacher in the Los Angeles school system. Together they had three children: Dalip Jr., who served in the Korean War as a lieutenant in the U.S. Army, and two daughters, Julie and Ellie, who both attended the University of California, Los Angeles.13

Initially, Saund’s young family settled on a ranch in Westmorland, California, a dry, windy, and hot region of the state just a few miles south of the Salton Sea. The area specialized in sending melons to market before anywhere else, but the Depression hit the local economy hard. Fruit rotted in the field, and harvest work disappeared.14 Saund came out of the economic collapse relatively unscathed because he grew and baled alfalfa hay and had direct access to Los Angeles.15 Saund owned his own farming equipment, but because California law prevented people of Asian descent from owning or leasing land at the time, a friend in the valley had to put the contracts in his own name.16

As the economy rebounded, Saund stumbled for a spell and plunged into debt. Against advice from friends and business associates, he refused to declare bankruptcy and decided to work his way out of the hole “slowly but surely.” “That decision to follow the dictates of my own heart was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made,” he wrote years later.17 After 20 years of farming, Saund opened his own fertilizer business around 1953, commuting a total of nearly 1,000 miles a week between his home near Los Angeles, where his wife taught and where they raised their children, and his business, headquartered in Westmorland.18

Saund closely followed politics during his time in the west, studying the issues of the 1924 and 1928 presidential contests. “By 1932,” he wrote in his memoirs, “I had positively and definitely become a Democrat by outlook and conviction.”19 During the 1930s, his home county received a number of benefits from federal New Deal programs created to help struggling farmers and people out of work.20

When he was not farming, Saund was a popular speaker in the valley and addressed local groups nearly every week.21 He learned how to think and speak in the moment, unscripted, during his involvement with the Toastmasters Club.22

Saund’s political activities could go only so far, however, because, at the time, federal law prevented him from becoming a U.S. citizen. In the 1940s, he helped organize efforts to open citizenship to people of Indian descent living in the States. He worked long hours to build support, and, eventually, Congress passed a bill allowing Indian immigrants to pursue naturalization.23 Saund became a U.S. citizen three and a half years later on December 16, 1949.24

Saund was elected to the Imperial County Democratic Central Committee in the summer of 1950 and ran for a judgeship in November. He claimed to know every voter in the district and campaigned door-to-door, building momentum. He won, but a higher court vacated his election after it became clear that Saund had not been a U.S. citizen for a full year at the time of his victory.25 Two years later, Saund ran again, and in the buildup to the 1952 judicial election, he faced a barrage of discrimination. Voters, and even old friends, told Saund that they liked him well enough but could never bring themselves to “go for a Hindu judge.”26

As the election heated up, Saund adamantly refused to go negative, his message being, “I am not running against anybody; all I’m asking for is a job, and it’s up to you to judge whether I deserve your support or not.”27

“Doc, tell us, if you’re elected, will you furnish the turbans or will we have to buy them ourselves in order to come into your court?” someone later asked him in the middle of a restaurant. “My friend,” Saund responded, “you know me as a tolerant man. I don’t care what a man has on the top of his head. All I’m interested in is what he’s got inside.”28 On Election Day, Saund won by 13 votes.29

During his four-year judgeship, Saund worked to institute stiff sentencing that helped clean up blighted areas of Westmorland.30 He earned the reputation as a firstrate legal mind, going head to head with more practiced attorneys.31 Saund’s judgeship became a huge part of his identity and served as a springboard to national office. When he ran for the House, he ran as “Judge Saund.”32

In 1954 Saund won election as the head of the Democratic Central Committee for Imperial County. Democrats lost the congressional election that year but made a stronger showing than most political experts expected, encouraging local party officials to go all in for the next race in 1956.33 Saund had met a number of political kingmakers, and by the next fall, California Democrats began pledging support for Saund—whom they reportedly called “the peacemaker”—if he ever decided to run for Congress. It did not take long. By October 1955, Saund resolved to campaign for a seat in the House from California’s 29th District. He knew half of the district well (Imperial County), but anticipated a struggle in neighboring Riverside County. A handful of party leaders from both counties ended up giving him their backing a month later.34

When the incumbent Congressman, Republican John Phillips, announced his retirement from the House, six Republicans and two Democrats—Saund included—jumped into the race by early 1956.35

Saund’s congressional district was created after the 1940 Census, and voters there had elected a Republican to the House ever since. By 1955, however, Democrats had a slight edge in voter registration.36 Geographically it was huge—larger “than Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Delaware combined,” according to the New York Times—and bordered by Nevada to the east, Mexico to the south, and Los Angeles to the west.37 From a population standpoint, it was one of California’s smaller districts, with a total of 233,021 people in 1950; it grew to 378,296 by 1960.38

Saund’s main opponent in the Democratic primary was a lawyer from nearby Riverside County named Carl Kegley. The race began cordially until Kegley filed legal action to disqualify Saund, arguing the Judge had not been a U.S. citizen long enough to serve in the House.39 Undismayed, Saund saw it as an opportunity. “When he filed suit against me,” Saund remembered a few years later, “it became front-page, headline news in all the Riverside and Imperial County papers. Even if I could have afforded it, I couldn’t have bought that kind of publicity.”40

Saund remained confident in his eligibility throughout the fight, pointing out that, if he won the election, he would take office in January 1957, making him a citizen for just over seven years, as required by the Constitution.41 He stayed on message and refused to attack his opponent, eventually winning the primary by more than 9,000 votes.42

Going into the general election, Saund played catch-up to his Republican opponent, Jacqueline Cochran Odlum. A decorated Army pilot known for her work as the head of the Women Airforce Service Pilots during World War II, Odlum owned a successful cosmetics company and had long been a supporter of President Dwight D. Eisenhower.43 Because of the unique backgrounds of the two leading candidates, the race attracted national attention. “A woman’s ‘smoldering hope’ and the success story of an East Indian immigrant are converging into what is likely to be one of the most colorful Congressional contests of 1956,” reported the New York Times. “Seldom if ever has the American melting pot cooked up a spicier election dish than the contest now simmering in California’s 29th Congressional District,” read another article in the Los Angeles Times.44

Throughout the campaign, Odlum reportedly outspent Saund many times over.45 Saund, however, used a grassroots approach, holding a series of free community barbeques.46 His phalanx of supporters, including members of his own family, campaigned door-to-door while registering voters.47 His wife, Marian, and their college-aged daughter, Ellie, spent summer vacation canvassing Riverside, and Saund’s son and daughter-in-law came home often to help. “We didn’t have time to stop and count how many precincts,” Marian said. “We just worked.”48 House Majority Whip Carl Albert of Oklahoma also campaigned for Saund in California, and Harold Cooley of North Carolina wired his support.49

Saund’s ethnicity and religious beliefs were a constant issue in the race. The Associated Press reminded readers that Saund was “a Sikh Hindu born in India” with “darkhued” skin before noting that he had been “thoroughly Americanized after 36 years here.”50 Saund bought airtime in Southern California to introduce himself to voters throughout the district.51 But as the New York Times told its readers two weeks before the election, Saund ran up against “considerable racial sensitivity in the area.”52 Years later, Odlum still believed that Saund was, as she said, “a card-toting Communist.”53

Ultimately, the issues seemed to outweigh everything else. As a farmer who had once struggled to pull himself out of debt, Saund believed in the necessity of farm subsidies, while Odlum, who also ran her own ranch, took a more conditional approach.54 Odlum touted her connections in Washington, while Saund promised to work hard and used his personal history as proof of his commitment to the district.55 A few years after the election, Saund criticized the idea of campaigning on political connections writing, “My view was that any congressman who expected to get favors from the big boys in Washington got them only by voting the way the big boys wanted him to vote, not the way the interests of his district would lead him to vote.”56

During a last-minute debate broadcast a week before the election, Saund pointed out that his political beliefs as a Democrat were often more in line with the popular Republican presidential administration of Dwight Eisenhower than Odlum’s own stances as the actual GOP candidate.57 Saund built on that momentum going into Election Day. When the dust settled, he won, taking 54,989 votes, or roughly 52 percent.58

Saund credited his victory to his stance on local issues, especially his commitment to small-scale farmers and small businesses.59 With his election, Saund became the first Asian American ever to enjoy full voting rights in Congress (he served as a U.S. Representative whose powers were not circumscribed like those of the Delegates and Resident Commissioners who had preceded him).60

“Californians have not always been hospitable to aliens—and especially to aliens of Asian origin,” the Washington Post’s editorial board observed. “In this election they ignored ancestry and considered the individual.”61 “He’s growed cotton. He’s growed lettuce and beets. He’s worked in hay and he’s worked for wages. And he won’t let any smart aleck lawyers trick him,” a district farmer told the culture magazine Coronet. “That’s why we sent him to Washington.”62

For the duration of his House career, Saund faced modest competition back home. He won re-election handily in 1958, taking 62 percent of the vote and crushing his Republican opponent, John Babbage, by almost 26,000 votes.63 In 1960, although he said he was “running scared,” Saund coasted to victory over Republican Charles H. Jameson.64

Saund, the New York Times wrote shortly after his first election, “is a stocky, dynamic, perpetually grinning man whose walnut skin threatened to handicap him in a raceconscious section where there was some informal school segregation until a couple of years ago. This evidently was more than offset by his manifest dedication to American ideals and by his articulateness—he speaks in a highpitched, urgent tone, with just a faint alien accent. He looks like an average business man or schoolteacher, and with his serviceable ‘border Spanish’ has occasionally been mistaken for one of the Mexican-Americans numerous in the district.”65

Saund’s ethnicity may have been an issue in the election, but the Congressman-elect did not want it to influence his service in the House. Saund wanted his committee assignments to reflect his district’s interests rather than his personal history and told the press he would like a seat on something other than the Foreign Affairs Committee. “I am not so much concerned with India,” he said about a month before the start of the new Congress. “I am concerned with my district right here in California.” He wanted to see better farm supports. He wanted the Air Force to build a new base in his district, and he wanted a nuclear power plant built in the “big spaces” outside the valley. “I would prefer to be on the Agriculture and the Armed Services Committee,” he had said in late November.66 On the eve of the new Congress, at least one report had Saund pushing for a seat on the Interior and Insular Affairs Committee.67

Saund arrived in Washington on December 17 to look for a home and start organizing his congressional office.68 He was already something of a national star and, in his first term, Democratic leaders placed him on the Committee on Foreign Affairs despite his earlier reluctance. Saund called the appointment a “high honor,” and he remained on the committee for his entire House career. Foreign Affairs was one of the most powerful committees in the House during the Cold War, making it a major coup for a novice lawmaker. In the 86th and 87th Congresses (1959–1963), Saund also served on the Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs.69

His national profile aside, Saund tried to stay out of the spotlight as much as he could in order to learn how the House worked—a difficult problem when television cameras from CBS followed him around on Opening Day. He and his wife ate breakfast in the House cafeteria every morning before he went up to his office to answer mail from his constituents.70 Saund helped veterans and their families access benefits and worked to secure millions in funding for the March Air Force Base and the Naval Auxiliary Air Station and additional money for the Corona Naval Ordinance Laboratory. He collaborated with committee chairmen to fund flood control projects, won funding for irrigation efforts on American Indian land, opened new post offices in his fast-growing district, built new roads, improved airports in the Imperial Valley, and assisted scientists developing new strains of cotton. He worked to protect the Bracero farm labor program, in which immigrants from Mexico took jobs in America’s agricultural sector as part of a guest-worker program. And he helped to settle claims Riverside County had against the federal government for repairs to a regional airport.71

Saund was a fierce supporter of the 1957 Civil Rights bill. The Judge used his own story to advocate its passage, pointing out that, although being born in India did not prevent him from becoming a Member, being born black in Mississippi would have. “No amount of sophistry or legal argument can deny the fact that in 13 counties in 1 State in the United States of America in the year 1957, not one Negro is a registered voter. Let us remove those difficulties, my friends.”72

Midway through his first term, Saund fulfilled a campaign promise by flying home to India for the first time in almost 40 years. When he first floated the idea in the days after the 1956 election, Saund billed the trip as a “goodwill” visit sponsored by the State Department to clear up “misunderstanding between the people of the United States and India.”73 India had more or less stayed out of the conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War, but Saund planned to stress America’s “freedom of opportunity.”74 “Look,” he wanted to tell the world, “here I am, a living example of American democracy in practice.”75

It was not until a year later that Saund returned to India as a representative of the Foreign Affairs Committee, “a one-man subcommittee,” as the Judge called himself.76 Saund was quick to acknowledge that racism still existed in the United States, but he hoped to use his personal story to undercut what he called “the Communist lie that racial prejudice against Asians is rampant in America.”77

Saund, his wife, and their daughter arrived in Calcutta, India, on November 25, 1957, and spent three weeks touring the country. He touted his assignment to the Foreign Affairs Committee as a reflection of America’s genuine desire to reach out to the world. More than anything, wrote one reporter, Saund’s trip “helped to create a new realization among thinking Indians that they have friends in the United States sincerely devoted to advancing the cause of India.”78 Saund also addressed a joint session of the Parliament of India, speaking honestly about America’s failings, but quickly pointing out the steps the United States was taking to correct its wrongs.79

During his two-and-a-half-month world tour, Saund visited a host of other locations : “Japan, Hong Kong, South Vietnam, Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Burma, India, Pakistan, Israel … Rome, Paris, and London,” selling American ideals and encouraging cultural exchange.80 Eight months after he returned, Saund told the House that the people he met abroad wanted “freedom and the American way of life. Yet we—a Nation of supersalesman [sic], are failing to sell our way of life.”81

The needs of Saund’s constituents remained at the forefront of his legislative agenda during the 86th Congress.82 His bill to protect the date industry in the valley was perhaps his most hard-fought victory in the House. Date growers from his district had been running up against cheaper imports, and to protect the domestic crop, Saund introduced a bill to subject foreign-grown dates and walnuts to a quality inspection. Although the government already had similar programs for a host of other produce,a number of cabinet departments opposed Saund’s bill, as did the large commercial industries that relied on the cheap fruit. The House Agriculture Committee reported Saund’s bill favorably, but the Rules Committee sat on it, unwilling to bring it to the floor. In late August 1960, Democratic leadership suspended the rules and allowed for a vote. His bill easily cleared the House but failed to become law.83

Using his position on the Interior and Insular Affairs Committee, Saund also helped negotiate a deal between the city of Palm Springs and the residents of the nearby Agua Caliente Reservation. Saund brokered the agreement using two bills (H.R. 8587 and H.R. 6672), whereby existing reservation land would be divided among its residents in a process called “equalization.” The holders of tribal lands could then lease their parcels to the city for a period of 99 years in order to meet commercial lending regulations. “This will make possible the development of valuable Indian property, the expansion of business in Palm Springs and the acquisition of the airport by the city,” Saund said.84

Saund continued to secure funding for flood control in the valley, new infrastructure projects and post offices, and improvements to the military installments in his district. Although he supported the Bracero Program, Saund called for tighter restrictions and criticized the ranchers who exploited the program in order to maximize profit. “American citizens are entitled to jobs on American farms before any imported labor is authorized,” he said.85

Saund maintained his support for Congress’s civil rights legislation and voted in favor of pensions, health insurance for senior citizens, and insurance for the unemployed. On an international scale, Saund wanted to spend less money on military aid and more on cultural exchanges and infrastructure projects in the developing world.86 For one thing, Saund wanted to see America’s huge agricultural surpluses put to use overseas. “A hungry world,” he wrote, “would receive the bounty of American farms with much more gratitude than they do the tons of obsolete military hardware under the Mutual Security Program.”87

Even into the next Congress, Saund remained critical of the federal government’s overseas spending. “We must admit,” he said, “that our efforts to promote democracy and build strong free societies in many of the underdeveloped countries of the world through massive expenditures of U.S. funds have been, to say the least, not successful.”88

In defiance of the John F. Kennedy administration, Saund pushed Congress to more closely monitor its foreign investments. In particular, he wanted to ensure that whatever money America gave to the world actually made it to the farmers and rural villagers who needed it the most. “That has been our mistake all along,” he said during debate on the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961. “We have been identified with the ruling classes. We have been coddling kings and dictators and protecting the status quo. The status quo for the masses of people in many lands means hunger, pestilence, and ignorance.… And we then wonder why the poor people of the underdeveloped areas of the world do not appreciate the help of Uncle Sam.”89

Early in the 87th Congress, Saund was named vice chairman of a large congressional delegation participating in the Mexico-United States Interparliamentary Group. With the goal of strengthening ties between legislators of the two countries, four topics dominated the docket : “foreign investments, foreign trade, border affairs, and cultural exchange.”90 Saund, whose district stretched for miles along the U.S.-Mexico border, first submitted the resolution creating the legislative roundtable in 1959, and it became law a year later.91 He chaired the committee on border affairs at the conference, where the two countries discussed immigration, the Bracero Program, and customs duties.92 In the end, Saund considered the cross-border sitdown a huge success.93

On a flight from Los Angeles to DC on May 1, 1962, the Judge suffered a stroke and was immediately moved to a hospital in Bethesda, Maryland. Saund’s family and doctors kept his condition under tight secrecy. His wife reportedly brought work to his hospital room every day while his staff maintained business at his office on the Hill. Saund nevertheless went on to win the party primary a month after his health crisis, and in September his campaign announced he would stand for re-election in the general contest.94 On Election Day, however, Saund, who had been unable to campaign himself, lost to Republican Patrick M. Martin, taking only 44 percent of the vote.95

Saund remained in the Bethesda hospital for the next month until he was well enough to travel. Doctors moved him to a medical facility in San Diego and then, in January 1963, moved him to one closer to home in Los Angeles, where he made “slow but good” improvement.96 After suffering a second stroke 10 years later, Saund died at his home in Hollywood, California, on April 22, 1973.97

The House was in recess when Saund died, but when it gathered again, Members held a memorial service for the Judge in the Capitol and eulogized him on the floor. Colleagues called him “a classic American success story,” a “pioneer,” and “a gentleman in the best sense of the word.”98 Some said the House was a better place because of his service, which had paved the way for “those generations from and interested in Asian nations.”99 “To chronicle all his legislative achievements and personal successes during his lifetime could not begin to pay Dalip Saund the justice and honor he deserves,” Majority Leader Tip O’Neill of Massachusetts said. “Those of us who knew and admired him in the House, remember him as a man of boundless energy, personal integrity, and strong convictions—consistently and tirelessly fighting for the right of ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness’ for all Americans.”100

Footnotes

1D. S. Saund, Congressman from India (1960; repr., Amritsar, India: Satvic Books, 2002): 12–15, 20.

2Saund, Congressman from India: 28.

3Ibid., 30–32.

4Ibid., 29–30.

5Ibid., 30.

6Ibid., 32.

7Ibid., 33–35, quotation on p. 35; New York Passenger Lists, 1820–1957, Arrival New York, New York, microfilm T715 1897–1957, roll no. 2842, p. 31, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC, http://www.ancestrylibrary.com/ (accessed 30 October 2015).

8Saund, Congressman from India: 42.

9Ibid., 40.

10Quotation from Joseph Laitin, “Mr. Saund Goes to Washington,” Coronet reprinted in the Congressional Record, House, 85th Cong., 1st sess. (17 April 1957): 5940; Saund, Congressman from India: 44, 47–48.

11Saund, Congressman from India: 45 ; Gladwin Hill, “Colorful Contest Shaping on Coast,” 27 December 1955, New York Times: 17.

12Saund, Congressman from India: 46–47.

13Ibid., 48–50.

14Ibid., 50–51, 53–55.

15Ibid., 60–61; Hill, “Colorful Contest Shaping on Coast.”

16Saund, Congressman from India: 63–64.

17Ibid., 64–66.

18“Mrs. Odlum, Saund Wage Hot Race,” 14 October 1956, Washington Post: A12; “First India Native Goes to Congress,” 11 November 1956, Atlanta Journal and Constitution: A9.

19Saund, Congressman from India: 55.

20Ibid., 56.

21Ibid., 67–70.

22Ibid., 69.

23Ibid., 71–74; “Indian Bill Praised,” 29 June 1946, New York Times: 3.

24Saund, Congressman from India: 75.

25Ibid., 76–78.

26Ibid., 79.

27Ibid., 80.

28Ibid., 81.

29Ibid., 82.

30Ibid., 82.

31Laitin, “Mr. Saund Goes to Washington.”

32Bill Becker, “Coast Race Finds Democrat Ahead,” 16 October 1960, New York Times: 48.

33Saund, Congressman from India: 91–92.

34Ibid., 93–94; Laitin, “Mr. Saund Goes to Washington.”

35Saund, Congressman from India: 94–95.

36Kenneth C. Martis, The Historical Atlas of Political Parties in the United States Congress, 1789–1989 (New York: MacMillan Publishing Company, 1989): 197–211; Hill, “Colorful Contest Shaping on Coast.”

37Hill, “Colorful Contest Shaping on Coast.” See also Gladwin Hill, “Republicans Lose California Seats,” 8 November 1956, New York Times: 42.

38For population figures, see Congressional Directory, 85th Cong., 1st sess. (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1957): 18; Congressional Directory, 88th Cong., 1st sess. (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1963): 22.

39Saund, Congressman from India: 96–97; “The Southland: Hearing Set on Eligibility of Candidate,” 18 April 1956, Los Angeles Times: 22; “Appellate Court Refuses to Act in Election Case,” 27 April 1956, Los Angeles Times: 31.

40Saund, Congressman from India: 97.

41Ibid.

42Ibid., 97–98; Seymour Korman, “Adlai Sweeps California,” 6 June 1956, Chicago Daily Tribune: 1; “Southland: Imperial Provides Major Boost to Odlum Victory,” 7 June 1956, Los Angeles Times: 41; “Flier, Hindu Judge To Try for Seat From California,” 8 June 1956, Christian Science Monitor: 19; “Mrs. Odlum, Saund Wage Hot Race.”

43Erik Thomas Robinson, “Jacqueline Cochran,” in American National Biography, vol. 5 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999): 117–118.

44“Congress Only Goal of Jacqueline Odlum,” 25 October 1956, Los Angeles Times: A14. First quotation from Hill, “Colorful Contest Shaping on Coast.” Second quotation from “Hot Race Looms in 29th District.”

45“GOP Primary Expenses Reported at $585,352,” 14 July 1956, Los Angeles Times: 4; “Mrs. Odlum, Saund Wage Hot Race.”

46Saund, Congressman from India: 99.

47Ibid., 102–103; “Mrs. Odlum, Saund Wage Hot Race.”

48Richard Dyer MacCann, “California Family Shares in Victory of India-Born Contestant for House,” 21 November 1956, Christian Science Monitor: 10.

49Congressional Record, House, 85th Cong., 1st sess. (14 June 1957): 9197.

50“The Southland: Hearing Set on Eligibility of Candidate”; “Hot Race Looms in 29th District”; “The Southland: Mrs. Odlum Leads GOP Ticket in Congress Race,” 6 June 1956, Los Angeles Times: 39; “Mrs. Odlum, Saund Wage Hot Race.” See also “Mrs. Odlum, Saund California Rivals,” 7 June 1956, Baltimore Sun: 2; Edward T. Folliard, “Adlai’s Vote Still Soaring in California,” 7 June 1956, Washington Post: 1; “Party Line Cohesion Is Noted in California’s Primary Votes,” 7 June 1956, Washington Post: 2; Eileen Summers, “Candidate Cochran Sees Agriculture As Top Issue,” 7 June 1956, Washington Post: 33; “Flier, Hindu Judge To Try for Seat From California.”

51Saund, Congressman from India: 105–106; Richard Dyer MacCann, “Democracy Seen in Action,” 16 May 1956, Christian Science Monitor: 3.

52Gladwin Hill, “California Leans Strongly to G.O.P.,” 21 October 1956, New York Times: 1.

53Jacqueline Cochran, interview by Joe B. Frantz, 7 April 1974, transcript 1, Lyndon Baines Johnson Library, Oral History Collection, Austin, TX, https://www.eisenhower.archives.gov/research/oral_histories/c.html (accessed 11 April 2016).

54Saund, Congressman from India: 103–104; Hill, “Colorful Contest Shaping on Coast”; Eileen Summers, “Candidate Cochran Sees Agriculture As Top Issue,” 7 June 1956, Washington Post: 33.

55“A Sikh in Congress: Dalip Singh Saund,” 10 November 1956, New York Times: 13.

56Saund, Congressman from India: 104–105.

57Ibid., 105–107; MacCann, “California Family Shares in Victory of India-Born Contestant for House.”

58Office of the Clerk, U.S. House of Representatives, “ElectionStatistics, 1920 to Present.”

59“Upset Victor,” 8 November 1956, Chicago Daily Tribune: 11; Richard Dyer MacCann, “California Sends Ex-Asian to House,” 8 November 1956, Christian Science Monitor: 3; Laitin, “Mr. Saund Goes to Washington.” Saund’s stance toward agricultural subsidies was something of a region-wide trend, and the strength of farmers in the West “did much to offset the pull of President Eisenhower’s coattails” in the congressional races. See John D. Morris, “Farmers Helped House Democrats,” 8 November 1956, New York Times: 31.

60Martis, Historical Atlas of Political Parties in the United States Congress, 1789–1989: 195–211; “India Immigrant Wins California Seat,” 8 November 1956, Washington Post: A17.

61“East Is West,” 10 November 1956, Washington Post: A8. Not all the press coverage was so welcoming or tolerant. The Chicago Daily Tribune, who described Saund as a “detribalized Sikh,” recommended that Saund “revert to the costume and customs of his former country. . . . If he lets his beard grow and oils it until it shines, and puts his hair up under a bright red turban, he can expect to be a marked man in the house [sic].” See “Advice to the Sikh Congressman,” 14 November 1956, Chicago Daily Tribune: 16.

62Laitin, “Mr. Saund Goes to Washington.”

63“Rep. Saund Faces Fight for Congress,” 2 November 1958, Los Angeles Times: B2.

64Bill Becker, “Coast Race Finds Democrat Ahead,” 16 October 1960, New York Times: 48.

65“A Sikh in Congress: Dalip Singh Saund.”

66Richard Dyer MacCann, “California Family Shares in Victory of India-Born Contestant for House,” 21 November 1956, Christian Science Monitor: 10.

67Don Shannon, “Californians Seek Place on House Rules Group,” 3 January 1957, Los Angeles Times: 18.

68“Nehru Meets India-Born Congressman,” 19 December 1956, Los Angeles Times: 18. For more information on his staff, see Saund, Congressman from India: 109–112.

69Saund, Congressman from India: 114–115; Laitin, “Mr. Saund Goes to Washington.”

70“Freshman in Spotlight,” 4 January 1957, New York Times: 14; Saund, Congressman from India: 115–116, 122; Congressional Record, House, 85th Cong., 2nd sess. (23 August 1958): 19922.

71Congressional Record, House, 85th Cong., 2nd sess. (23 August 1958): 19922–19923. For additional constituent services, see Saund, Congressman from India: 116–122.

72Congressional Record, House, 85th Cong., 1st sess. (14 June 1957): 9197.

73“Congressman-Elect to Visit Native India,” 9 November 1956, Los Angeles Times: 22. See also “Rep. Saund to Tell His Story to India,” 9 November 1956, Washington Post: C4; “Winner on Coast Plans India Trip,” 10 November 1956, New York Times: 13.

74“A Sikh in Congress: Dalip Singh Saund.”

75MacCann, “California Family Shares in Victory of India-Born Contestant for House.”

76Saund, Congressman from India: 151.

77“Congressman Born in India to Visit There,” 3 May 1957, Los Angeles Times: 7. See also “Saund Visits Japan,” 31 October 1957, New York Times: 8 ; “Saund Manila Bound,” 18 November 1957, Los Angeles Times: 5; “The Price of Indonesian Favor,” 19 November 1970, Los Angeles Times: B4.

78Quotation from “Rep. Saund Sells U.S. on His Tour,” 18 December 1957, New York Times: 19. See also “Saund in Indian Homeland,” 26 November 1957, New York Times: 13; “U.S. Should Sell Itself to Asians, Says Saund,” 23 December 1957, Los Angeles Times: 6.

79Josephine Ripley, “A Congressman With a Mission,” 8 February 1958, Christian Science Monitor: 20.

80Earl W. Foell, “U.S. Urged to Clarify Motives in Asia,” 7 January 1958, Christian Science Monitor: 14.

81Congressional Record, House, 85th Cong., 2nd sess. (23 August 1958): 19923. For more on Saund’s trip abroad, see Saund, Congressman from India: 148–179.

82Saund, Congressman from India: 127.

83Congressional Record, House, 86th Cong., 2nd sess. (1 September 1960): 19359; Congressional Record, House, 86th Cong., 2nd sess. (22 August 1960): 17086.

84Congressional Record, House, 86th Cong., 1st sess. (17 August 1959): 16066–16067; Congressional Record, House, 86th Cong., 2nd sess. (1 September 1960): 19359; House Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs, Providing for the Equalization of Allotments on the Agua Caliente (Palm Springs) Reservation in California, 86th Cong., 1st sess., H. Rept. 903 (14 August 1959); Unpublished hearing before the House Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs, Subcommittee on Indian Affairs, To Authorize Longer Term Leases on Indian Lands on the Agua Caliente (Palm Springs) Reservation, 7 August 1959; House Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs, Authorizing Longer Term Leases of Indian Lands on the Agua Caliente (Palm Springs) Reservation, 86th Cong., 1st sess., H. Rept. 901 (14 August 1959).

85Congressional Record, House, 86th sess., 2nd sess. (1 September 1960): 19359–19360. On the Bracero program, see also Bill Becker, “Coast Race Finds Democrat Ahead”; Congressional Record, House, 86th Cong., 2nd sess. (24 August 1960): 17546–17547.

86Congressional Record, House, 86th Cong., 2nd sess. (1 September 1960): 19361; Congressional Record, House, 86th Cong., 1st sess. (9 June 1959): 10341; Congressional Record, House, 86th Cong., 1st sess. (17 August 1959): 16080–16083. See also Saund, Congressman from India: 181–184.

87Saund, Congressman from India: 187.

88Congressional Record, House, 87th Cong., 1st sess. (16 August 1961): 16060.

89Ibid., 16061. See also Congressional Record, House, 87th Cong., 1st sess. (17 August 1961): 16211–16212; Don Shannon and John H. Averill, “Saund Could be Target of Purge in 1962,” 27 August 1961, Los Angeles Times: B3.

90D. S. Saund, Report of the First Meeting of the Mexico-United States Interparliamentary Group, 87th Cong., 1st sess., H. Rept. 197 (24 March 1961): iii.

91Saund, Report of the First Meeting of the Mexico-United States Interparliamentary Group: 1.

92Ibid., 6–8.

93Ibid., iv.

94Richard Bergholz, “The Position of Saund is Puzzle to Election,” 23 July 1962, Los Angeles Times: A4; John H. Averill, “Democrats Worry Over Saund Illness Secrecy,” 17 June 1962, Los Angeles Times: A4; John H. Averill, “Rep. Saund Will Run Again Despite Illness,” 7 September 1962, Los Angeles Times: 2; “Rep. Saund of California Campaigns from Hospital,” 8 September 1962, Los Angeles Times: 16; “Opinions on Health of Rep. Saund Conflict,” 17 October 1962, Los Angeles Times: 20; “Saund: Mystery Veils His Illness in Capital,” 21 October 1962, Los Angeles Times: K5; “Rep. Saund Sure He Can Serve, But Leaves Decision to Doctors,” 30 October 1962, New York Times: 12.

95“Martin Defeats Saund in Congressional Race,” 8 November 1962, Los Angeles Times: 2; “Saund Replaced by Native-Son Republican,” 9 November 1962, Washington Post: A2; Office of the Clerk, U.S. House of Representatives, “Election Statistics, 1920 to Present.”

96“Saund Moved to San Diego Naval Hospital,” 30 November 1962, Los Angeles Times: 33; “Saund in UCLA Center,” 14 January 1963, Los Angeles Times: 26; “Ex-Rep. Saund Shows Slow but Good Progress,” 10 May 1963, Los Angeles Times: 24.

97“Dalip Saund Dies; Ex-Legislator, 73,” 24 April 1973, New York Times: 44; “Dalip Saund, 73: Former Congressman,” 24 April 1973, Los Angeles Times: E18; “Ex-Rep. Dalip S. Saund, First Native of India to Hold U.S. Elective Office,” 25 April 1973, Washington Post: C11.

98Congressional Record, House, 93rd Cong., 1st sess. (15 May 1973): 15756, 15757, 15759.

99Ibid., 15758, 15759.

100Ibid., 15760.

View Record in the Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress

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Bibliography / Further Reading

Saund, Dalip Singh. Congressman From India. New York: Dutton, 1960.

"Dalip Singh (Judge) Saund" in Asian and Pacific Islander Americans in Congress, 1900-2017. Prepared under the direction of the Committee on House Administration by the Office of the Historian and the Office of the Clerk, U.S. House of Representatives. Washington: Government Publishing Office, 2018.

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Committee Assignments

  • House Committee - Foreign Affairs
  • House Committee - Interior and Insular Affairs
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